, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 2- President Uhuru Kenyatta has affirmed his commitment to support the freedom of the media in the country.
President Kenyatta said that his government appreciates the critical role the media plays in informing, entertaining as well as protecting the public interest.
He said that his government will among other measures fast-track media related Bills including The Media Bill, The Data Protection Bill, The Access to Information Bill and Communications Commission of Kenya Bill.
The President said: “Media freedom, including online media, today plays a dynamic role in the economic transformation of society. Some countries have benefited from such freedom in attracting foreign direct investments.”
“My government will therefore prioritise media freedom. Further, my government will pursue and enact policies, initiatives and programmes to empower the media sector,” he added.
“I assure the media fraternity in the country that my government will support the media to be free, fair and responsible in conducting their business as provided for by our Constitution as well as international conventions to which Kenya is a signatory,” he further pledged.
The president who spoke at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre when he officially opened a regional journalists’ convention said that the legislation will provide for independent bodies in the regulation of the media sector and which will strengthen professionalism in the industry.
He further told the conference that the government was committed to ensuring diversity and plurality in the media industry.
“Indeed, Kenya has set an example for Africa in terms of non- interference in media freedom. We will uphold this proud reputation,” the President said.
The Head of State President challenged the media must safeguard professionalism jealously in order to sustain the trust and faith of the public by remaining objective and impartial.
The Head of State observed that as his government seeks to entrench and expand media freedom that independence must come hand in hand with a deep sense of responsibility.
Speaking at the same function both the chairman of the Media Council of Kenya Joseph Odindo and Media Owners Association Chairman Kiprono Kittony called for the licensing of a third independent signal distributor.
Odindo said that the law currently provided for a third signal distributor but that the media industry was concerned at the inordinate delay in awarding the licence.
“We are concerned that the organisations licensed to distribute signals have close association with the government but we need another licence holder who is independent to give broadcast operators options,” Odindo said.
Speaking during the convention, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero appealed to the media to allocate more space to education items that will instil patriotism and unity.
Other speakers at the two day convention included Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo who assured the media fraternity in Kenya that the Government has taken steps to ensure fairness in the distribution of digital signals.